HOUSTON -- The importance of coaching is sometimes lost, especially when it comes to great players. But, as he rejoins Gary Kubiak with the Denver Broncos, defensive line coach Bill Kollar's impact on Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt shouldn't be underestimated.
"The ability to have him throughout my entire time here definitely helped with the transition," Watt said last month. "It’s also just helped make me a better player. He has so much experience in this league, and he is such a tough coach, but he is a very, very good coach. Every single day is something new with him. I’m always learning, and I’m always improving as a player."
Kollar's style isn't easy for players, especially young ones. He can be abrasive and demanding. Many of them don't like him at first. Watt has admitted plenty of times that it took him some time to get used to Kollar's style.
"The thing about him is he’ll always tell it like it is," Watt said. "He’s not going to hold anything back, but he’s always going to tell the truth. It just becomes then whether or not you want to hear the truth and whether or not you can handle the truth."
Watt isn't the only one who credits a lot of his development to Kollar. Former Texans pass rusher Connor Barwin, a first-time Pro Bowler with the Eagles, praised Kollar's coaching earlier this season. Specifically, Barwin said Kollar's emphasis on batting down balls is why he (five batted passes) and Watt (nine batted passes) are among the best in the league at that skill. Texans defensive end Jared Crick is also adept at batting passes, having six this season.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien did not have to allow Kollar to leave for this lateral move. Kollar was quoted by both John McClain of the Houston Chronicle and Mark Berman of Houston's FOX26 as saying he has grandchildren in Denver and wanted to be near them.
Kollar was the only position coach holdover from Kubiak's staff to O'Brien's (special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky also remained). He's been a defensive line coach since 1986 and an NFL defensive line coach since 1990, having coached with the Falcons, Rams and Bills before arriving in Houston. Also, one time he wrestled a bear.